Creating Graphs: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Emily Hume

Emily is a Reading Specialist and Literacy coach in a public elementary school with a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Graphs are a great way to analyze and display data in an easy to read and understand manner. In this lesson, you will learn how to create three of the most commonly used graphs: bar graphs, pictographs, and circle graphs.

How Are Graphs Made?

Your mom bakes your favorite pie: cherry - yum! You decide you're going to cut it before anyone else can get to it! So you carve out a big piece for yourself. You cut it in half and use whipped cream to mark your initial. Then, you cut the remaining half in half again and put an 'M' on one piece and a 'D' on the other for 'Mom' and 'Dad'. Surprise - you are now looking at a graph!

Pie Chart
Pie Graph

The graph in this example is called a pie chart, sometimes called a circle graph. It is shaped like a circle and divided up into sections to represent different numbers, or pieces of the pie. In the cherry pie example, half of the pie represents your part, and the other half represents the part that belongs to Mom and Dad.

What Is a Bar Graph?

You ask your friends: What is your favorite animal? You hope that dog will win because it's your favorite, but you have so much information that you need to create a graph to determine the winner. You could use a bar graph, which is a graph in which bars of various sizes are used to visually represent information.

Here's what your friends answered: 2 said giraffe, 5 said dog, 3 said monkey, 1 said fish, and 9 said cat. Let's create a bar graph to see which animal is the winner!

Steps to Create a Bar Graph

Step 1: Draw a horizontal line. Below it, with some space in between each word, write the names of your animals: giraffe, dog, monkey, fish, and cat.

Step 2: Draw a vertical line on the left side that meets the point of your horizontal line. It will look like a big 'L'.

Step 3: To the left of your vertical line, make small marks in even intervals (for example, every quarter inch). Write a number on each, going up. What's the number you need to stop at? That depends on what the highest number in your information is. In this case - it's 9!

Step 4: Draw your first bar and have it stop at 2 for giraffe.

Step 5: Repeat until you have recorded bars for each animal in your friends' answers. See the image Animal Bar Graph to see what your completed graph should look like!

Favorite Animal Bar Graph
Favorite Animal Bar Graph

What Is a Pictograph?

You can have a lot of fun and be really creative with a pictograph, a graph that uses pictures to represent units of measurement. Let's look at an example!

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